Posts Tagged ‘scandal’

pinProvided even a reasonable percentage of her supporters turn out, as opposed to spending the day in a bar drowning their sorrows at what has become of America, then Hillary Clinton has already won the Presidential election.

Barring an opinion earthquake, of course. Of which, yes, there is always a tiny possibility – especially in this most unusual year – but we surely now know everything there is to know about Mrs Clinton after her much-touted thirty years in public life. The chances of anything truly dramatic coming out now is vanishingly low, especially after the Wikileaks big expose, which kept some right-wing Americans up all night with excitement waiting for the goss, turned out to be a complete fizzer.

How can we be so sure? Simple. The size of the mountain Trump has to climb.

This is famed statistician Nate Silver’s latest forecast of the likely result.

Likely election result

This takes into account a wide range of opinion polls, some traditionally favouring one side, some the other, but only some of which factor in opinions SINCE the Trump “groping” scandal broke. The CNN poll on “who won the debate” isn’t factored in, but that strongly favoured Clinton too, even though it generally overstates Clinton support slightly, a factor that CNN acknowledge.

In other words, if Trump’s scandalous remarks are not fully factored in yet, and the debate isn’t either, then this is a dire result for Trump. His position, already looking rocky, has declined further. And still has some downside to go.

This is how Trump has been faring recently:

Clinton creeps towards 50% in the popular vote.

Clinton creeps towards 50% in the popular vote.

 

The College starts to favour Clinton markedly.

The College starts to favour Clinton markedly.

 

Chance of winning

The “chance of winning” calculation looks insurmountable for Trump.

 

The “path to a win” problem

Most pointedly, when we look at the Electoral College likely result, Trump’s path to the White House now looks impossible, because the polls are predicting critical wins for the Democrats in Florida (up by more than three points) and Pennsylvania (up by nearly seven points), in North Carolina and Virginia by comfortable margins, and, indeed, in every other battleground state except Nevada and Arizona, and in Nevada Trump’s lead is just 4%, and in Arizona it’s “even stevens”, but then again we also know that the main newspaper in that state is now campaigning for Clinton.

Trump simply doesn’t have a route to win, on these figures. As things stand, Clinton will win 310-340 electoral college votes: more than enough for a very comfortable victory. Trump may well pile up votes in very conservative locations, but that doesn’t help him, no matter how much “singing to the choir” he does.

But the real killer for Trump is that things are going to get worse from here, not better. Blind Freddie can see that there will be some fallout from the recent furore that will be reflected in polls that will get reported by about Wednesday or Thursday, American time. How big a hit Trump will take is as yet unknown, but a hit there will be.

And as Silver argues:

Trump couldn’t really afford any negative shock to his numbers, given that he entered Friday in a bad position to begin with. Let’s say that the tape only hurts him by one percentage point, for instance, bringing him to a 6-point deficit from a 5-point deficit a week ago. Even that would be a pretty big deal. Before, Trump had to make up five points in five weeks — or one point per week. Now, he has to make up six points in four weeks instead (1.5 points per week).

In other words, Trump’s mountain is growing, not getting smaller. A gain of 1.5 points a week will require a massive sea change in opinion and there is no evidence whatsoever that is happening.

In addition, we see three more anti-Trump factors that will be starting to bite against him, given that is always a delay between things coming up and them affecting the opinion polls.

Trump’s “non payment of Federal tax for 20 years”

The expose over Trump’s tax situation is, we believe, much more telling than some people have realised. It’s simply too smug for Trump to dismiss it as “smart business” to use write offs to reduce tax seemingly forever. The idea that a billionaire doesn’t need to pay ANY tax, year after year, is a lousy atmospheric for the Republicans, especially for a party often condemned as being only interested in the big end of town. Trump’s natural support base is angry. Angry in an inchoate, unspecific way.

And they all pay their taxes, on much lower incomes. Sure, a few will say “good on him”, and a few will argue “he did nothing illegal”, but that is emphatically not the point. Most will say, “Well, f***.”

Trump’s stunt on Sunday with “the Bill Clinton women”.

No one would argue that Bill Clinton is anything other than a womaniser: it’s a near-fatal character flaw when his record is judged. But there’s a reason that Republican strategists have historically NOT gone after him as a means to get at Hillary. It’s because every time it’s brought up, it produces more sympathy for Hillary than everything else, especially amongst women voters. In desperation, Trump broke that rule. It won’t help him, and could hurt him.

Also, every time Trump brings up Clinton it reminds people of his own transgressions. His first wife accused him of rape – an allegation withdrawn after a confidential settlement. A “live” rape case with a thirteen year old plaintiff is in the courts now. Trump denies both, but, you know, so did Clinton …

The Republican backlash.

Sure, the Republican Party is split right down the middle. Sure, Tea Party types will accuse all those Republicans now abandoning Trump as being the best possible reason to back him and his intra-party revolution. But not all Republican voters are Teapublicans, and they and “independent” voters leaning towards Trump will be dismayed at his own colleagues’ thumping rejection of him. Some of those voters will plump instead for the Libertarian, Johnson, some will simply stay home rather than vote for the hated Clinton. Neither of those possibilities help Trump. By contrast, the centre and left have coalesced effectively around Clinton, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein is fading.

Now opinion polls have been wrong in the past. (Most notably with “Brexit”, which we and everyone else called wrong.) But not this wrong.

Which is why we say, as we have all along, it’s all over. Somewhere, a fat lady is singing her lungs out.

Probably one that Trump insulted.

UPDATED Jeremy Thorpe, long a sufferer with Parkinson’s Disease, died overnight in the UK. He was 85.

I am warmly indebted to my old friend and political compadre Simon Titley for reminding me that it was thirty four years tomorrow that the leader of the then Liberal Party in the UK, (now the Lib Dems), Jeremy Thorpe, was acquitted of the attempted murder of his alleged homosexual lover, Norman Scott, in a sensational trial that effectively ended his career and transfixed the nation for weeks.

20130622-223524.jpgAs a politician Jeremy Thorpe was a one-off. Not many political leaders of the day would have consorted with Jimi Hendrix. He also acquired the risible nickname “Bomber” Thorpe, for arguing the the British should meet the Rhodesian Unilateral Declaration of Independence by bombing the white farmers who led it.

Despite often being lampooned, he proved a successful leader with a knack of winning key by-elections, and in 1974 achieved a credible 19% of the popular vote for the Liberals and came within a whisker of joining a coalition Government with Ted Heath’s Tories, but judged that the resulting minority Government could not survive a confidence motion in the house, nor would it be popular with his party, and he declined.

Persistent rumours about Thorpe’s sexuality dogged his political career. Norman Scott, a former male model, met Thorpe in 1961 while working as a stable lad. He later claimed that he and Thorpe had had a homosexual relationship between 1961 and 1963, when homosexual acts were illegal in Britain.

Scott’s airing of these claims led to an inquiry within the Liberal Party in 1971, which exonerated Thorpe. Scott, however, continued to make the allegations. These allegations were published in great detail in a book called Rinkagate—The Rise and Fall of Jeremy Thorpe by Simon Freeman and Barrie Penrose (Bloomsbury 1996).

In October 1975, Andrew ‘Gino’ Newton, a former airline pilot, collected Norman Scott from where he was living in Combe Martin, North Devon, and drove him to Exmoor; Newton drove Scott onto Porlock Hill, where they stopped and got out of the car.

Newton then shot Scott’s dog Rinka, a Great Dane, (the scandal was also called “Rinkagate” in the public consciousness) before turning the gun on Scott.

When the case came before Exeter Crown court, in March 1976, Scott said that the gun jammed and that Newton then drove off, leaving him alone beside the dead dog.

But Newton always maintained that his intention was only to frighten Scott, who, he alleged, possessed incriminating photographs of Newton. In any event, Newton was convicted for the illegal possession of a firearm and an intent to endanger life.

Norman Scott in 1976

Norman Scott in 1976

During his court appearance, Scott repeated his claims of a relationship with Thorpe, and alleged that Thorpe had threatened to kill him if he spoke about their affair. Scott also sold letters to the press which he claimed to be love letters from Thorpe.

One of these included the memorable line “Bunnies can and will go to France”, which supposedly showed Thorpe using his ‘pet-name’ for Scott in connection with a promise to find Scott a well-paid job in France.

Contemporaneously, the phrase “Bunnies can and will got to France” was used to sniggeringly imply that something illegal, or at least immoral, could always be arranged for someone.

The scandal forced Thorpe to resign as Liberal Party leader on 9 May 1976.

He was replaced temporarily by his predecessor Jo Grimond and then permanently by David Steel.

Andrew Newton was released from prison in April 1977, and then revived the scandal by claiming that he had, in fact, been hired to kill Norman Scott.

On 4 August 1978, Thorpe was accused along with David Holmes (deputy Treasurer of the Liberal Party), George Deakin (a night club owner) and businessman John Le Mesurier (neither the actor nor the athletics coach) of conspiracy to murder. Thorpe was also separately accused of inciting Holmes to murder Scott.

The trial was scheduled to take place a week before the general election of 1979, but Thorpe obtained a fortnight’s delay to fight the election. However, Thorpe was narrowly defeated.

Thorpe and the three other accused were put on trial at Number One Court at the Old Bailey on 8 May 1979, a week after Thorpe had lost his seat.

Thorpe was charged with attempted murder and, along with the other three defendants, conspiracy to murder.

One of the chief prosecution witnesses was former Liberal MP and failed businessman Peter Bessell, who claimed to have been present while the murder plot was discussed within the Liberal Party. According to Bessell, poison had been rejected as a method of killing Scott because “it would raise too many questions if he fell dead off a barstool”. One alleged plan had been to shoot Scott in Cornwall and dispose of the body down a disused tin mine shaft.

Bessell agreed to appear as a witness in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

His credibility was damaged, however, because he had sold his story to The Sunday Telegraph for a fee that would double from £25,000 to £50,000 if the prosecution was successful.

Thorpe did not testify in the case, but his counsel, led by George Carman QC, argued that, although he and Scott had been friends, there had been no sexual relationship. Carman claimed that Scott had sought to blackmail Thorpe and that, although Thorpe and his friends had discussed “frightening” Scott into silence, they had never conspired to kill him.

It is a matter of record that Thorpe, who is still alive, was acquitted, but Judge Mr Justice Cantley’s summing-up was widely criticised for showing a nakedly pro-establishment bias, and it made headlines when he described Scott as “a crook, an accomplished liar … a fraud”.

In spite of the judge’s direction, the jury was at first split 6–6, but, after 15 hours of deliberation, it finally reached a verdict of Not Guilty. The four defendants were all acquitted on 22 June 1979.

This left merely the leading satirist Peter Cook to memorably provide a spoof of Cantley’s summing up, which thankfully is preserved by YouTube amongst others, as it is perhaps the finest ever modern example of skewering, savage wit being used to make an important social or political point. If you think Stephen Colbert or John Stewart are good – and they are, really really good – then give yourself the time to watch Cook’s bravura performance. Click the screen below.

Not only is it gut-churningly laugh-out-loud funny, but it remains one of the most culturally significant uses of satire in the second half of the 20th century, and is an example, should an example be needed, of the vital role that free-speaking and free-thinking comedians play in pressing our culture and democracy.

If you have any difficulty playing the spot, (as YouTube is acting up a touch for me) then just click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xi-agPf95M or paste it into your browser.

Oh, and pillow biter? During the trail Scott mentioned, indicating his reluctant participation in receptive homosexual sex, “I just bit the pillow, I tried not to scream because I was frightened of waking Mrs Thorpe.” Pillow biter immediately became, and has remained, a pejorative term for a homosexual man.

The rest, as they say, is history. So now you know …

Many, many moons ago, my mother’s family, on my grandmother’s side, (and we are talking about years with an 18 in front of them – imagine! People I actually knew!) hailed from Lincolnshire. From a town called Boston, to be precise. And today, one of my closest friends is from that country, entirely coincidentally.

So when Simon sent me news of this wonderful story, it was always going to end up in the blog.

Louth. Which for one glorious summers day, was not very couth. See what I did there?

For some time, the banger-munching burghers of Lincolnshire have been petitioning the European Community to have their famous Lincolnshire sausages declared a special species of snag – much as champagne can now only come from the actual area called Champagne in France, and so on, otherwise it must be called “Sparkling wine”.

And very wonderful they are too.

Sadly, the EC turned the Lincolshire-ites down, which given the EC is happy to regulate just about everything that happens within its borders without fear or favour seems slightly unfair. But undaunted, one local Mayoress nevertheless decided to dress up as a sausage when the Olympic torch rolled through town, to keep up the fight to publicise the wonderful local porky offering.

Never mind that sausages are commonly, in rough and ready yokel language, often used as a cipher for the male appendage. Never mind that the outfit she chose, (see below), looked uncommonly like, well, see for yourself.

It’s a, er, sausage. Honest, guv.

Louth Mayor Cllr Makinson-Sanders, for it is she, and her alter ego, the “happy sausage of Lincolnshire”.

Anyhow, the Mayor of Louth has made national headlines after an Olympic Torch Relay stunt – with many people saying her novelty sausage costume was mistaken for – OK, let’s say it – a penis.

As “This is Linconshire”  reports (whose server must surely have melted down overnight) Bill Nicholson, from Kidgate, wrote to every town councillor objecting and demanded that the mayoress be stopped.

He said: “The council chamber must put a stop to this embarrassment and restore some dignity to the people of Louth who do not want the local Olympic event hijacked for commercial reasons.

“To insult the whole spirit of the Olympic movement and the modest people who have carried the Torch is not in Louth’s interest.”

Despite this plea,  Makinson-Sanders secured the ‘phallic’ costume and stunned many residents in the Lincolnshire town who branded it ‘obscene’.

Mum-of-two Sandra Ellington, 38, said: “She probably thought she was being quite fun and quirky – but it backfired a little bit.

“People couldn’t take their eyes off her because it looks so rude. Her outfit certainly gained a few titters among the crowd.”

Comments on Wednesday’s story on This is Lincolnshire included: “The costume makes her look like a gentleman’s appendage,” and “she is clearly deluded if she thinks that costume looks anything like a sausage.”

Councillor Makinson-Sanders defended her actions, claiming that Louth Town Council had not been officially invited to have anything to do with the Olympic Torch or to meet the Torch and welcome it into the town.

“I was not attending in my capacity as mayor. I serve the town as mayor but only when invited to do so,” she said.

Some local residents have defended the mayoress – even praising her for being bold and imaginative initiative.

Patrick Neville, chairman of Louth Food and Drink group on Louth Town Partnership said: “She is doing what Louth richly deserves – getting us recognised as a food town of excellence. Rather than complain, these people should welcome the Mayor’s actions.”

Another commenter on this website added: “I think it is wonderful that people in higher places can prove that they are human. What a load of miserable so-and-so’s and total snobs we have. I think that she’s doing more for the Lincolnshire sausage than a bunch of Mayor’s chains could do.”

Some of the positive comments on the website really were delightful.

“Dress up like a sausage? Wrong or right, the girl’s got balls.” opined bwvixen.

Referring to a badge at the top of the story, opinionhated asked “Is the “trusted source” Brown or Tomato?”

smorrisey was clearly thinking things through. “I think the problem was that it was pink – maybe if they’d made it brown… oh, hang on!”

And the story duly reached the national press, undoubtedly the first time Louth ever has …

The British are wonderfully obsessed with body parts and smut. Frankly, the only thing the story is missing is a good fart joke or two. Anyway, I think it’s a lovely story, and on balance, I come down on the side of the brave Lady Mayoress. And you know what? If you disagree, well, frankly I think you’re being a bit of a, well, you know.

Titters.

Anyway, back to global warming, gay rights, Syria, and the Republican Party tomorrow. Not all in the same story, we trust.

And by the way, if all this has whetted your desire to put some sausage in your mouth, you’ll need this.


Lincolnshire Style Sausage, 2 Kg mix

1Kg Pork Shoulder
500g Pork Belly
270g Water (Chilled)
180g Rusk / Breadcrumb
50g Seasoning

Lincolnshire Sausage Seasoning

50g Salt
5g White Pepper
5g Black Pepper
5g Nutmeg
2g Mace
3g Ginger
1g Allspice
15g Dried sage
14g Corn flour
Mix all the above together until even in colour.

Preparation

1. Chill all meats well, 2 – 3 Hours
2. Chill the water in the refrigerator
3. Dice meats to fit the Mincer Throat – oo-er, missus – and return to refrigerator until ready to start
4. Weigh up the seasoning as above & weigh out the 50gm required
(Keep the rest in a screw top jar)
5. Weight up rusk or bread crumb – put to one side
6. Mince the meats through the blade of your choice (Course or fine)
7. Add meats to the bowl & fit onto the mixer with the K beater
8. Start the mixer on slow speed and add the seasoning
9. Add the chilled water and continue mixing on slow for the water to absorb this should take no more than 20 seconds.
10. Turn the mixer up to speed 4 and mix vigorously until the meat mixture looks sticky, again about 30 – 40 seconds.
(This is releasing myosin: the protein that sticks the sausage together & gives texture, rather like the gluten in bread.)
11. Add rusk or bread crumb & mix well in
12. If the mixture is wet or soft let it stand for a few minutes for the rusk/breadcrumb to re-hydrate.
13. Fill into suitable casings.
14. Allow to stand overnight to Bloom (Flavour Development).

By the way, do not – ever – prick sausages before eating. (Pun intended.) Seriously. Cook over a low heat until gently browned on all sides, thus containing the lovely juicy fat inside the casing.

You have been told.